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Alsace Pinot Noir makers push for grand cru status

An increase in the quality of Alsace Pinot Noir means wines made from certain grand cru vineyards should be officially given grand cru status, winemakers will argue in a formal application.

A plan to secure grand cru status for some Alsace Pinot Noir wines is being backed by the region’s winemakers’ association, which is set to formally propose the move to France’s appellation body, INAO, in March or April 2016.

Bureaucrats rejected a similar application 15 year ago on the basis that production was too small. But producers are hopeful that quality improvements and higher production will carry them through this time.

White wines haven’t always been so dominant in Alsace, according to Véronique Muré, of Famille Muré and the owner of Clos Saint Landelin.

During the 15th and 16th Centuries, Rouffach, a town in southern Alsace, was more well known for its red wines than its whites, she told Decanter.com. ‘We found documents stating that the reds were sold for higher prices than the white wines.’

Frédéric Bach, director of the Alsace winemakers’ association, added, ‘red wines have always been produced in Alsace. But, the quality was not allowed to have to a better classification than the basic AOP Alsace.’

Next year’s proposal is set to encompass Alsace Pinot Noir produced from the grands crus of Vorbourg (in Rouffach), Hengst (in Wintzenheil) and Kirchberg (in Barr).

‘In soil that includes clay and limestone, Pinot Noir gains power (from the clay) as well as finesse and stylish texture (from the limestone rocks),’ said Muré, who produces an acclaimed Pinot Noir from the Clos Saint Landelin monopole in Vorbourg Grand Cru.

Along with Domaine Albert Mann, Muré’s family pioneered high quality red wines. Their cuvee “V” (for Vorbourg) was sold at €41 ex-cellar against €22 for the Riesling Clos Saint Landelin.

‘We need to set a limit for this cuvée of three bottles per customer because there is more demand than what we can produce,’ Muré said.

She said red grapes are booming. ‘For example, on Vorbourg Grand Cru, 15% of the land is planted in Pinot Noir,’ said Muré, adding yields are smaller than for white wines, at 45hl per hectare.

(Editing by Chris Mercer)

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